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Ireland still the third-richest EU country

IRELAND is still the third-richest country in Europe, according to new figures from Eurostat, the European statistics agency. Average wealth here is 25pc higher than the European norm.

The figures are based on the ratio of national wealth measured as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) to the number of people in each country.

The figures are a guide to personal wealth, rather than a measure of actual incomes.

The latest data show that incomes in Ireland dropped from second-highest to joint third-highest last year and our relative wealth has declined sharply.

At the height of the boom in 2007, average wealth per person in Ireland was 147pc of the European Union average, based on a standard measure of purchasing power.

By the same measure, German incomes are 19pc higher than the European average.

The Irish figures are also reckoned to be distorted because the income of large multinationals is counted into this country's GDP figure -- but most of that income does not stay in the country.

Luxembourg has the highest average income at 283pc, according to the figures.

The findings for Luxembourg are distorted by the large number of French and German workers that commute to Luxembourg. They add to its productivity but are not factored into population statistics for the country.

In Greece and Portugal, incomes are well below average. Greek incomes are 89pc of the average, compared to 81pc in Portugal.

The latest GDP figures for Ireland are due to be published on Thursday. They will be closely watched to assess the country's progress within the bailout programme.

Irish Independent